09 May 2012

Cats and Mice

The police in Copenhagen are going after those rogues of the urban landscape - the bicycle users - this week. It's generally slim pickings for them. The 99% usually cycle without committing any major terrorist actions - and have done for 125 years. The police are arch-conservative and continue to insist that societal decay is imminent. In the course of an average week with these bike raids - cykelrazzia in Danish - they'll ticket about 700-1200 people. Out of a few hundred thousand daily bicycle users. Brilliant use of resources.

The man in the photo, above, is Mogens Knudsen, Superintendent in Copenhagen Police Traffic Unit. It's his personal crusade to clamp down on cyclists and all talk of traffic calming, lower speed limits and other modern urban devices is swept aside by Mogens. If there is one law enforcement officer in Copenhagen who is desperately holding back the hands on the clock of progress, you're looking at him. As my colleague Lars Barfred put it, "For Knudsen, 30 km/h zones are like legalising heroin."

I debated with Knudsen a couple of years ago at the National Cycle Conference, which you can read about in this article. Little has changed.

If you're wondering what the photo is up top, it's a fine example of a bit of cyclist activism. The police were hiding around a corner, stopping cyclists who rolled casually around the corner despite the red light. There was a long period where nothing happened. Then they looked around the corner and found this sign hanging next to the cycle track.

It says, "Watch out cyclists. Police Checkpoint. No right turn..."

Bicycle users warning each other. To his credit, Knudsen took it casually. "It's fair enough. We're hiding around the corner and they are helping each other. It's large-heartedness." Yes it is.

What it also is, is a good sign. It's a sign that the bicycle users in Copenhagen are thinking differently. They are reacting to the rising car-centricism, not only from the police. Activism is a rare thing in Copenhagen, but it remains a necessity and I welcome every bit of it. Citizens reacting to 75 years of failed traffic engineering that continues to place the car on a pedestal. Even in Copenhagen.

We've been doing a bit of activism as well. Running a twitter account and Facebook group where bicycle users can warn each other. It's good fun.

If you cycle on the sidewalk around a corner, instead of turning right on red on the cycle track, you can save 300 kroner on the fine. That's about $60. The same applied if you cycle down a one-way street. Save money on the sidewalk. :-)

And if you're a student you can get a 50% discount on any fine you get.


Here's our article about the last police raid on cyclists and how the City of Copenhagen has been handed a map over locations where infrastructure and desire lines for cyclists can be improved. No News is Big News.


Anonymous said...

But please tell me, why is it such a BIG problem for you , waiting some 30 sec. for the light to turn green and then make your right turn?

Robert Hoehne said...

anon, the lights are there for dangerous cars I'd expect, not people moving at human speeds of a bike.

Edward said...

Anon, agreed with what Robert said. You'll also probably find that they were turning right from a bike lane to a bike lane. If that's the case, at no time would they come into conflict with motor vehicles.

Paul Martin said...

As my colleague Lars Barfred put it, "For Knudsen, 30 km/h zones are like legalising heroin."

No, legalising heroin would probably save lives too! He can't win! ;)

Ole Kassow said...

This is the pedestrian crossing where police caught a friend of mine this week (and a cost of 1000 kr/$175): http://g.co/maps/9j8dv

It's a crossing with no cars and during the morning hours only very sparse pedestrian traffic. Even pedestrians cross for red all the time, all day, rather than wait for 60 second while 4-5 bikes roll by.

What really drives me mad about this senseless use of police ressources is that at the same time police complain they don't have the time to catch bicycle thieves. We have had 3 cargo bikes stolen over the years and police have mad no success in recovering any of them.

I really wish the likes of Mogens Knudsen would wake up and celebrate cycling cultures:-)

Alisdair said...

Use of resources?

Cycle police generally police bikes.

I know this logic may seem strange with Air wing not policing other aircraft, and the dog squad not policing other dogs. Nevertheless, marine police police boating, highway police police roads...

What else should cycle police do? They do attend other jobs but police are tasked to jobs befitting of their environments.

Erik Griswold said...

Anyone know how old Mogens is and when he will be forced to retire? Getting rid of the Dinosaurs works wonders. Perhaps we can convince his bosses to offer him an early-retirement buyout?

Anonymous said...

No the ligts are there so people ,you know these stupid pedestrian can cross safely to the other side!
And again why cant you just wait 30sec for the lights to shift ,why the hurry?

Anonymous said...

I actually like the danish police. They got me without lights on my fixie bike plus I had a frame across my shoulder aswell.
They drove abit forward in there vehicle so i had the change to escape from them but i decided to take the shit.
They just told me to walk the rest of the way!

Just treat em with respect as they're supposed to!